2 Ex-employees Sue Mcdonald's For $5.7 Million

Men Say They Were Falsely Accused Of Embezzlement, Forced To Resign

March 19, 1992|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Contributing writer

Two former employees of the Jessup McDonald's have filed a $5.7 million lawsuit against the fast-food corporation, claiming they were falsely accused of embezzlement and forced to resign.

Littell A. Hobbs Jr. of Pasadena and Gerald Duncan of Glen Burnie filed the suit in Howard County Circuit Court.

The lawsuit says both men were summoned in March 1991 to McDonald's regional office in Columbia, where company officials Mike Hoey, Redden Leggett and Rick Bohdel questioned them for four hours about a $111 shortfall at the restaurant, refusing to let them leave or call alawyer.

Duncan explained the reason for the shortfall, and all but $11 was recovered within a day, the suit said.

Company officialsalso accused Hobbs of making discriminatory remarks, but refused to give him details about the remarks or to whom they allegedly were made, the suit said.

Both men denied any wrongdoing. They were suspended pending an investigation, and about a week later, were given the choice to resign or be fired.

Hobbs declined to discuss the suit, and Duncan could not be reached for comment.

McDonald's officials were unavailable for comment.

The suit said Duncan was forced out because of the $111 shortfall, and Hobbs resigned after company officials charged him with failing to document register shortages. Both men claim they resigned under duress, and Hobbs said in the suit that there was no evidence that McDonald's investigated the shortfall or the discriminatory remarks.

Hobbs, 32, was a 16-year employee of McDonald's and manager of the restaurant. He had earned awards for maintaining the best employee relations and lowest employee turnover in the Baltimore region, the suit said.

Duncan, 50, the assistant manager, was a four-year employee of the company and had received high jobperformance ratings.

Hobbs and Duncan claim that McDonald's violated its company policy, which states that an employee performing below expectations will be given a chance to improve or will be suspendedpending a review of the alleged offenses.

In the suit, Hobbs claims that his problems with the company began when Jim Lewandowski became Baltimore region operations manager in May of 1990. Hobbs, who reported to Lewandowski, said he resisted his supervisor's efforts to fire older McDonald's employees.

In an incident just before Hobbs was forced out, the suit said, Lewandowski told Hobbs not to allow old people to work in areas visible to customers.

Also named as a defendant in the lawsuit is Mary Rhodes, an employee at the Jessup McDonald's. Hobbs and Duncan claim that Rhodes told co-workers and McDonald's customers that the two men were fired for embezzling from the company.

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